Archive for July, 2017

Stacy Jones review…July 22, 2017…

STACY JONES

LOVE IS EVERYWHERE

MOJO POTION 61 AND 49–WAIT FOR HEAVEN–CAN’T FIND LOVE–STOMP JUMP BOOGIE–CAN’T YOU BE MINE–I FELL IN LOVE–LOVE IS EVERYWHERE–ONE STOP LIGHT–GOTTA GET OVER YOU–TOUGH GIRLS NEVER CRY–I’LL BE ON MY WAY

Stacy Jones set out to make a blues-and-roots-themed album with “Love Is Everywhere,” and she did just that.  With her many accolades as a songwriter in her home state of Washington, this set will likely add to those kudos.  And, it also shows a side of her that many may not know exists—her multi-instrumentalist talents are all over this one, as she is on vocals, guitar, piano, B-3, and even the harp!

The set begins, literally, down at the Crossroads, as a second-line beat propels the ghostly story of a woman “who was a looker,” but who took the advice of the Hoodoo Man, and drank of the “Mojo Potion 61 And 49,” and “never was the same again!”  “Wait For Heaven” is a powerful, guitar-laden message of hope following the death of a friend in a house fire, while Mike Marinig’s sax and flute add an ethereal vibe to the Stax-soul flavor of “Can’t You Be Mine.”

Her nods to the Americana genre’ are evident in the tale of “Tough Girls Never Cry,” evoking memories of Lucinda Williams, and the humorous tale of going to any lengths to forget a lover, “Gotta Get Over You.”  And, the incomparable War veteran, Lee Oskar, adds his mighty harp to the fervent instrumental, “Stomp Jump Boogie.”

We had three favorites, all different, showcasing Stacy’s exemplary writing talents.  The mile-a-minute, call-and-response  of “One Stop Light” is straight-up dance floor boogie.  The set closes almost in the same place that it began, with the Delta-by-way-of-706-Union, Sun-splashed choogle of “I’ll Be On My Way.”  And, perhaps the set’s most powerful cut is the title track,  written after the Orlando tragedy, as a tribute to the fallen and an empowerment to those left behind to carry on.

Stacy Jones comes at you straight from her soul.  She blends the blues easily with other genres,’ and crafts a heartfelt set of songs that will add to her ever-expanding fan base.  As another great band once said, “People can you feel it—Love Is Everywhere!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Advertisements

Johnny Ray Jones review…July 20, 2017….

JOHNNY RAY JONES

FEET BACK IN THE DOOR

MOONDOG RECORDS

FEET BACK IN THE DOOR–HOLE IN YOUR SOUL–COME UP AND SEE ME SOMETIME–HIGH COST OF LOVING–HARD TIMES WON–LOVE-ITIS–I’M A BLUES MAN–A CERTAIN GIRL–IN THE HEART OF THE CITY–HEARTS HAVE TURNED TO STONE

Veteran Southern California blues man Johnny Ray Jones has been called “The Godson Of Soul,” and for good reason.  His vocals coach and mentor was the great Sam Taylor, while the wife of Percy Mayfield was his godmother.  His debut album’s title is apt, indeed,  as “Feet Back In The Door” actually had its beginnings back in 1995.  The ten cuts herein include one of Johnny’s originals, and all have that good ole Southern soul of Muscle Shoals by way of New Orleans, done in Johnny’s deep, soaked-in-a-barrel-of-Jack voice.

Joining Johnny are some of the most successful and famous players on the planet, both with instruments and behind the boards.  Along with Johnny Ray, the set is also produced by guitarist Johnny Lee Schell, and drummer man Tony Braunagel,  with Mike Finnigan on keys,  and Hutch Hutchinson on bass.

The set begins with the title cut, penned by Arthur Adams, and finds Johnny singing over a slow-cooked groove and asking a lover for a second chance, to get his “Feet Back In The Door.”  Everybody sets up a swampy groove for Johnny’s good advice to all of us–“you got a Hole In Your Soul if you can’t feel rhythm and blues,” this one  written by Sam Taylor, and featuring Coco Montoya on guitar.

Johnny gets in that Big Easy swing with a killer version of Allen Toussaint’s “A Certain Girl,” and the set’s closer, Leon Russell’s “Hearts Have Turned To Stone,” with some testifyin’ piano from Mike.  Johnny’s original, “In The Heart Of The City,” is an ode to the loneliness one can feel amidst the bustle of a big town such as L. A., especially when your lover’s not around.

As good as all these are, we had two favorites, too.  “The High Cost Of Loving” is sho’ nuff gettin’ higher every day—“the less I make, the more I have to pay.”  And, Johnny gets all over the greasy swagger of Arzell Hill’s “I’m A Blues Man–I’m an original/one of a kind!”

Johnny Ray Jones sings these songs directly from his soul to yours.  He’s paid his dues, and now, he’s got his “Feet Back In The Door.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

The Halley DeVestern Band review….July, 18, 2017…

THE HALLEY DEVESTERN BAND

KEEP ON PLAYIN’

KEEP ON PLAYIN–TIME FOR YOU TO LIGHT THINGS–BANGIN–SONG IN YOU–HIT TWICE

The Halley DeVestern Band has been away for much too long.  It was January 3, 2014, when we last posted a review for their works, the brilliant EP, “Fabbo! Boffo! Smasho!”   This vastly-under-recorded crew is back with their latest, a five-song EP entitled, “Keep On Playin,” consisting of four songs written by Halley and bassist Tom Heinig, and the closing cut, written by the band as a collective unit.

A lotta women have a big voice, but not too many can match both the power and the versatility of Halley,  and she wraps those boffo  pipes  around these tunes as if they were clay and she the sculptress.  Along with her on vocals and Heinig’s bass, Rich Kulsar is on drums, David Patterson is on guitars, and Steve Jabas is on guitars and keys.

Over these five songs, there are elements of blues, jazz, soul, funk, and, even a smattering of hip-hop!  Leading off is a song of empowerment, urging us to “Keep On Playin,” and reach for the sky, which turns into a full-on call-and-response with the rest of the band.  Halley even breaks off a rapped verse prior to the guitar solo at ’bout the 2:00 mark.  Next up is the bristling funk of “Time for You To Light Things,” which has an even more impressive mile-a-minute rap at the bridge of this one!  “Song In You” deals with finding love on the road during a stream of seemingly-endless “shotgun shows,” while the set closes with Halley’s vocals goin’ down to Memphis Minnie’s juke joint over some sweet slide.  She’s got some serious mojo workin, as she’s  “been hit by lightning, babe—I been Hit Twice!”

The Halley DeVestern Band always keep things interesting, thru their eclectic, varied looks at  all things blues.,  There’s also always one unwavering constant—the mighty pipes of this fine lead vocalist!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society,

Ben Rabb review…July 16, 2017….

BEN RABB

FEEL ME FALL

ALONE WITH YOU–THE FIGHT–ANYDAY–WORKING TO MY BONE–TAKE ME BACK

For Ben Rabb’s second outing, “Feel Me Fall,” he takes a look at loneliness while living amongst the sprawl and bustle of his new home in Los Angeles.   Literally, he got married one day and moved to L. A. the next, and the five songs on this EP were written to help cope with that feeling of isolation, and to offer the same message of positivity to listeners.  Also, this set marks a different side of Ben musically, in that the arrangements herein utilize a more complex formula, including electric guitar, bass, drums, piano, and a flugelhorn, as  opposed to strictly Ben, his voice, and his acoustic guitar.

We had three favorites.  The leadoff cut, “Alone With You,” has Ben realizing he’s been played for a fool by a lover, after finding out she “gladly shared my wealth, but not my fame.”  “Anyday” is a powerful cut that speaks for those who cannot always speak for themselves, as he sings, “I’ll take hope any day when it hurts,” reminding us that, no matter how strong or independent we are, we can all use a helping hand on occasion.  The set closes with somewhat of a retrospective tune,  “Take Me Back,” as Ben yearns for a simpler time and place, without “strings or restraints,”  and with “dreams I could chase.”

The material in “Feel Me Fall” is meant to challenge the listener to make changes in their lives wherever needed, and to do so without  being afraid to move on with life.  Ben Rabb has taken his Midwestern and Northeastern upbringing and successfully melded it with his life experiences as a transplanted Los Angeleno.  Until next time..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Dani Wilde review…July 16, 2017….

DANI WILDE

LIVE AT BRIGHTON ROAD

CD/DVD VIZZTONE  VT-DWCD 2016

ACOUSTIC SESSION: BUMBLE BEE–MY OLD MAN–GLORIOUS DAY–THE LIVING YEARS–ELECTRICITY

ELECTRIC SESSION: DEEPER THAN BLACK–HOUND DOG–HIGH ON YOUR LOVE–DON’T QUIT ME BABY–REFUGEE

We have been fans of British blueswoman Dani Wilde since she burst on the contemporary scene back in 2007, becoming one of the brightest young stars in the stable of artists with Ruf Records.  Now a part of the Vizztone Label Group, Dani has just released a CD/DVD combo that shows both her acoustic side as well as her ‘lectric side, and is entitled “Live At Brighton Road.”  The set was recorded at that studio,  with her brother Will on harp, while her touring band accompanies her on the electric cuts.

She kicks off the acoustic session with one of Memphis Minnie’s best, the slyly-sexy story of that lover with that “great big stinger,” “Bumble Bee.”  The poignant “My Old Man” is a personal song for Dani, as it deals with her grandfather and his penchant for smoking, but shows his good qualities as well, while the set closes with an ode to the feelings for a lover, as Dani ;likens them to “Electricity surging right thru me!”

The electric side is a bit more playful in nature.  That set kicks off with “Deeper Than Black,” where Dani urges a lover to “feel your way” to her desires!  She knocks Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” clean outta the park, and it features cool piano from Gregory Coulson.  Coulson strikes again in the rollicking romp of the Little Richard-flavored, stop-time boogie of “High On Your Love.”  This portion closes on a rather somber note, as Dani addresses the plight of those displaced throughout the world, pondering in “Refugee,” if “there is a place for me.”

The accompanying DVD has video footage in-studio of all ten performances, as well as a  fifteen-minute interview with Dani consisting of nine questions dealing with her choices of material, her philanthropic work with the children of Kenya, her ability to flourish in a male-dominated industry, and her refusal to be pigeon-holed as strictly an acoustic or electric artist.  She cites two of her heroes, Bob Dylan and John Lee Hooker, both of whom played acoustic and electric music, as her reasoning for the split of the ten cuts herein.  Fans, no matter what your preference, you can’t go wrong with Dani Wilde and “Live At Brighton Road!”    Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Tucci review…July 15, 2017….

TUCCI

OLIVIA

HIDEAWAY RECORDS

HIGH ROLLER–OLIVIA–I DON’T NEED IT–GIMME SOME OF YOUR LOVE–OVERTAXED BLUES–HEY FLORIDA–TRAIN BLUES–WITHOUT YOU–PLAY BY THE RULES–YOU HURT ME–THIRD EYE

Blues-rock band Tucci consist of Steve Tucci on guitar and vocals, Michael Tucci on drums, Shawn Murphy on sax and vocals, and Harry DeBusk on bass and vocals.  Also on this set of all-original material entitled “Olivia,” Larry McCray adds vocals and guitar, and, also, on one cut, is perhaps the last recording of a  Southern rock legend, guitarist  “Dangerous Dan” Toler, who passed in 2013 after battling ALS.

Fans, it’s billed as “blues-rock,” but this whole set hearkens back to the glory days of our youth, when Southern rock ruled the airwaves and the record stores.  Things kick off with Larry on guitar and vocals, setting up over a rhumba-rockin’ Albert King-styled groove with his tale of being a “High Roller.”    Shawn Murphy is up next on vocals on the summery title cut, an ode to a lover who emanates “shiny golden rays” of sunshine to brighten his days!  This one has some fine slide from Ira Stanley, and B-3 from Donnie Richards.

Two stellar examples of how this group channels its inner Southern rock ancestry are evident in the song that lauds the virtues of the Sunshine State, including “jazz, blues, plenty of sunshine, and white sugar beaches, too,” and it’s called “Hey Florida,” and features Steve on vocal, who shares guitar duty with Larry.  Everybody gets in a jam-ish groove from mid-song until the climax.  The set closes on a similar note, except this one is twelve minutes of pure bliss as Shawn sings “Third Eye,” and the whole unit hits that groove that conjures up memories of every band from the Allman Brothers on down within this genre’.

Those two would have easily been our favorites had it not been for two others.  Al Owen is on lead vocal with Dangerous Dan on guitar in the slow-blues story of a man plagued by always having to “Play By The Rules.”  And, a stone shot of humor in the midst of hard times finds Steve taking the vocal turn on a shout-out to “D. C. land” and, even to His Orangeness, as, “Mr. President, I got them hard-workin’ man, Overtaxed Blues!”

When Dan Toler approached Steve Tucci about forming a band, (which would ultimately become The Toler-Tucci Band, which yielded “Doc’s Hideaway,” Toler’s last full CD), Dan placed a strong emphasis on the band members all being friends first.  He believed that the friendship aspect would lead to better cohesiveness and stronger song quality, and nowhere is that more evident in the material contained within “Olivia.”  RIP, Dangerous Dan….Until next time,…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Blind Lemon Pledge review…July 14, 2017….

BLIND LEMON PLEDGE

AND FRIENDS

BACKWOODS GLANCE

OFEH RECORDS

POLLY COME OUT–THE HILLS OF WEST VIRGINIA–SISTERS OF THE COAL MINE–MOON OVER MEMPHIS–LYNCHBURG TOWN–FAYETTEVILLE–SILVER WINGS–SWEET CELINE–CAROLINA KISS–SUNSET MA BELLE CHERIE–GIVE MY POOR HEART EASE

This San Fran-based bluesman has been entranced by country-blues since first picking up a guitar at age 14.  That love of the music of the pre-WWII masters led to his adopting the moniker Blind Lemon Pledge, altho he is widely-known as James Byfield.  He has released five albums since 2009, and in March, 2016, we were proudly privileged to review “Pledge Drive.”  These albums were all predominantly blues-related affairs, but his latest set delves deeply into the sounds of Americana—traditional folk, gospel, and even Cajun threads run thru the twelve original cuts that comprise “Backwoods Glance.”

Along with Blind Lemon on vocals and guitars, we have Tom Cline on dobro, Jimi Edwards on keys and percussion, Peter Grenell on bass, Carl Keaoola on the fiddle, John Pearson on exotic percussion, and Marisa Malvino on vocals.  Those traditional sounds of dobro and fiddle lead off the set, with the barn-dance groove of “Polly Come Out,” where our hero is likened to “a polecat growlin” on the prowl for love!  “Moon Over Memphis” is a piano-heavy waltz that deals with old memories and lost love, with a heartfelt nod to the King and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

“The Hills Of West Virginia” is a haunting tale of the uncertainties of mining life in Appalachia, and Marisa takes the lead vocal as she looks at the whole thing from the point of view of  the “Sisters Of The Coal Mines,” who fight the good fight for better conditions after losing loved ones to mining accidents.

“Lynchburg Town” has s Dylan vibe, dealing with more economic hard times, and is followed up by the plight of the homeless “when the mine played out,” and who now live “on the streets of Fayetteville.”

These set closes with two of our favorites.  “Ma Belle Cherie” is a fiddle-fired Cajun tune about young lust that would fit in well at your next fais do do!  The finale is a powerful reminder to us all that God never puts on us more than we can handle, and redemption is only a prayer away to “Give My Poor Heart Ease.”

Blind Lemon Pledge has been called a national treasure, and we have no reason to disagree.  The material on “Backwoods Glance” is, at times, stark, bold, playful, and redemptive, but Blind Lemon Pledge has the chops to pull it off, honed thru time spent playing in the Bay Area Americana jam session circles.  Even tho it is a departure from his blues works, this set stands proudly on its own merits alongside them.   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.